Grounding: Techniques and Benefits

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on May 03, 2024
8 min read

Grounding, also known as earthing, is when you stand on the earth or have contact with a product that’s grounded into the earth. This connects your body to the natural electric charge of the earth, transferring electrons into your body. Some research shows that soaking up electrons can lower inflammation, ease stress, and improve sleep, to name a few.

Also known as vitamin G or electronic nutrition, some experts think grounding fixes an “electron deficiency syndrome” that plays a role in multiple health disorders. In other words, spending time on a grounding mat, walking in your yard, or wading in a lake can counteract the effects of not having direct contact and balance out your body.

The earth is electronically active, with lots of electrons floating on the surface. The human body naturally absorbs electricity from the earth, which produces changes in our bodies that may support our health. 

Historically, people were more connected to the earth. They spent more time outdoors with their feet and bodies directly on the ground. But nowadays, most people have little direct contact with the earth. As a result, our bodies build up positive static electric charges that can’t be released unless we connect to the ground. Grounding neutralizes those positive charges by absorbing negative electrons to balance you out. 

When connected, the electrons we absorb work as natural antioxidants that neutralize the positively charged free radicals that can damage your body. Exposure to the electrons is vital for functioning at your best. It can improve sleep, heal wounds, and reduce inflammation linked to a variety of health ailments.

Walking or touching the ground isn’t the only way to experience grounding. A variety of grounding products plug into outlets or can be directly inserted into the ground so you can receive electrons that neutralize the positive ones.

In today’s busy society, you may not spend as much time barefoot like our ancestors. That's why grounding products can be so helpful. A variety of products can make it easier to spend more time grounded even if you can’t get outside. 

From grounding sheets to adhesive patches and earthing shoes, the products are conductive so your body can absorb electrons. You just plug them into a wall outlet with a ground, or place the attached wire into the soil directly.

If you do place a plug into an outlet, make sure it’s properly grounded. You can see if it's correctly grounded with an outlet checker. Some product manufacturers include them when you buy an earthing item. You can find them online or pick one up at a hardware store.

Grounding mat

Earthing mats can go under your feet while you sit or stand or on your desk so it touches your hands and arms as you work. Many people sit and meditate on the grounding mats. You can also find yoga mats with grounding technology in them. 

Grounding sheets

Grounding sheets include a conductive material woven into the fiber. Usually the sheets contain carbon or silver. The material is connected to a wire that can be grounded through a wall outlet or directly outside into the ground. You sleep on them directly.

The silver can become oxidized due to washing and sweat, so the sheets may not be as effective over time, The Earthing Institute reported.

Grounding mattress pad

An earthing mattress pad works similar to the sheets, but it can slide on and off your bed. When you use the mattress pad, you can sleep on it directly or place it under sheets. Some manufacturers say there should only be one layer between your body and the mat to maximize conductivity.

Grounding socks

Like earthing sheets, the grounding socks enable your body to absorb electrons from the earth because they contain conductive materials like silver. There are two kinds of grounding socks. With the first type, you just slip them on your feet and plug them into an outlet or use the wire included and put the metal rod into the ground directly. The second kind of grounding sock is made out of material that attracts electrons so your body can absorb them. You can wear the socks outdoors directly on the ground if you don’t want to go barefoot.

Grounding shoes

Earthing shoes have a conductive plug at the sole of the shoe (near the ball of your foot) to allow electrons to pass into your body. 

Grounding patches

Another way to bring electrons into your body is to attach a sticky patch onto your skin. The patch snaps onto a cord that can be plugged into the grounding port of an outlet. 

Grounding rod

Earthing cords, also called grounding rods, are used to connect grounding products directly into the ground when an outlet isn’t available. You just clip it onto the earthing product and push it into moist soil. You can run the cord through an open window or door, and it shouldn’t get damaged. 

Whatever way you choose to connect, it’s important to do it regularly and for a little bit of time.

There’s no set amount of time when a person should practice earthing. In one study, a patient started to feel pain subside in 30 minutes. Another report advised that you should try to get 10 to 20 minutes a day – more if you can.

Researchers have published studies to document the benefits of grounding, though there’s not a huge amount of definitive evidence to show if it can actually prevent health ailments. A lot of evidence does show changes in the body within several minutes of connecting to the ground or a grounding product.

Authors of a 2020 report said they believe grounding can counteract cardiovascular, respiratory, neurodegenerative, and auto-immune conditions, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. According to The Earthing Institute, time connected to the ground can improve sleep, lower inflammation, ease stress, improve blood flow, and boost physical healing, to name a few.

Inflammation. One of the biggest known benefits of earthing is its ability to lower inflammation, which is linked to a lot of diseases and pain. One study pointed out the differences in concentrations of known indicators of inflammation in the blood of people who grounded compared to those who didn’t. The molecules linked to inflammation went down in people who participated in earthing more than those who didn’t get grounded. 

Blood flow. One study measured blood flow in people who had 1 hour of contact with the earth compared to those who didn’t. A 2023 report compared grounding and not grounding in people with COVID-19. The people with COVID who tried grounding didn’t have blood clots, while the non-grounded folks did. 

In a study of people who did yoga on grounding yoga mats for 1 hour, those on the mats had lower blood thickness, making it easier to flow through the body. Higher blood viscosity is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and high blood pressure. 

Better blood flow can also speed wound healing. That better blood flow may also have benefits for the face and skin.

Blood pressure. A small study found grounding was an effective technique to lower blood pressure.

Sleep. One study found grounded people had lower nighttime levels of cortisol – too much of the hormone can have negative effects on your health. In the study, grounding better aligned the hormone with a natural 24-hour circadian rhythm. A regular circadian rhythm is linked to better health. A disrupted rhythm can raise your risk for diabetes, obesity, blood pressure problems, and more. Grounding is linked to better restorative sleep and better relaxation. A study on grounding in people with Alzheimer’s disease showed it helped with sleep.

Heart rate variability. Your heart rate varies constantly, but heart rate variability that’s too low is linked to cardiovascular events. One small study saw heart rate variability improvements after 20 minutes of grounding, and it got even better when people grounded longer. 

Anxiety. Anxiety is linked to lower heart rate variability, so earthing may be a useful therapy for that as well. Some research in rats has shown that grounding can ease stress levels, but there’s not as much on humans. Two small trials in humans found that grounding improved levels of stress, which can contribute to anxiety.

Thyroid function. One report found that earthing at night impacted thyroid hormone levels known to impact health. Some people with thyroid problems had to adjust medication after grounding in another experiment, suggesting that grounding may be able to restore thyroid function.

It’s pretty well documented that earthing can affect your body. A few risks do exist, so it’s important to be safe if you choose to try grounding.

You may raise your risk for injury, infection, or allergic reactions from walking barefoot or earthing in open water. Walking barefoot on uneven ground could put you at risk for tripping or falling. Hydrate well if you choose to go outside to practice earthing during warmer months.

If you decide on indoor grounding, don’t use a plug-in product during a thunderstorm as it puts you at risk for electrocution. Earthing enthusiasts recommend checking outlets with a grounding device because wiring that's not properly functioning could cause an electric shock.

Check with your doctor before you start grounding, as it could interact with pregnancy, allergies, immune system problems, existing nerve damage, or issues with your feet.

If you feel any flu-like symptoms or you don’t feel well, stop earthing and contact a health professional. Some people feel a tingling when they start spending more time connected to the earth or a grounding product.

Ask your doctor if you should try earthing. Some research indicates it can offer health benefits. The practice is relatively safe. Medical studies haven’t proved that grounding can prevent diseases or replace modern medicine, but it may be a way to achieve better health.

How do grounding techniques work?

Unlike practicing meditation or using therapy to feel grounded, grounding is the practice of connecting to the earth either barefoot or via a product that grounds into an outlet or into the earth with a metal rod. Your body absorbs electrons naturally on the earth that are said to balance out your electrical circuit. Some people claim the practice is essential for good health.

How do you practice grounding techniques?

Stand on the ground without shoes to practice grounding. You can also opt for grounding products like mats and sheets, which are connected to a grounding port in a wall outlet or can be attached to a grounding wire that you push into the dirt.

Can grounding relieve stress and anxiety?

Some studies have shown it can make people feel less stressed.

How often should one practice grounding?

You can do as much or as little as you want. Several studies showed that people could experience benefits in 30 minutes or so.

Does grounding cure insomnia?

Clinical trials haven’t shown this, though some research (and a lot of reviews from people who practice earthing) indicates that grounding can improve sleep.

Are there any potential risks of grounding?

Grounding is generally thought to be safe for most people, but it’s a good idea to ask your doctor if there are any risks. Most risks revolve around walking around barefoot or using a wire during a storm or with a faulty outlet.